1938 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies released in 1938.

1. Olympia, directed by Leni Riefenstahl (10/10)

Yes, this is a propaganda film made by one of the worst regimes in 20th century history.

But for me it’s real historical value is as a document of sports, particularly as the first film document of an Olympic games. As such, it is absolutely riveting: not knowing the fates of Canadian athletes, I was on the edge of my seat for events we were competing in. It is of course also interesting as a cultural relic, containing tons of imagery re “Aryans” and plenty of racism. (Jesse Owens and co. are always referred to as Black Americans rather than Americans.) But it really is worth it for the athletic events; particularly watching Owens just destroy his competition in the 100 metre.

This has to be considered one of the most important sports films ever made. This is the blueprint for shooting athletics. It is just an astounding piece of work once you get past the naked bodies at the beginning.

2. The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (10/10*)

Watched during my Hitchcock phase, I cannot actually tell you whether this is classic or not, as I saw it well over a decade ago.

3. The Childhood of Maxim Gorky, directed by Mark Donskoy (8/10)

A pretty excellent realist coming of age film. Read the review of the Childhood of Maxim Gorky.

4. The Dawn Patrol, directed by Edmund Goulding (7/10*)

I do not remember this movie at all, I’m sorry to say.

5. Angels with Dirty Faces, directed by Michael Curtiz (6/10)

I didn’t record my thoughts but I’m pretty sure the entire plot bugged me and I gave it a 6 because of the production values.

6. The Adventures of Robin Hood, directed by Michael Curtiz, William Keighley (6/10*)

Saw this well over a decade ago. I cannot comment upon the accuracy of the rating.

7. Bringing Up Baby, directed by Howard Hawks (5/10*)

My unkind rating no doubt reflects my exasperation that this is considered by many American film critics to be one of the best movies of all-time. I think I was likely too harsh, and I should re-watch it to be fairer. But frankly, I have no interest in doing so.

8. Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith, Leslie Howard (5/10)

It’s not this movie’s fault that I can’t stand George Bernard Shaw. It’s his fault, and the Fabians. But honestly, I can’t understand the appeal of this kind of stuff. I know this story has now been repeated by Hollywood ad nauseum, but does that make the story good? The idea that people are wholly malleable is both not true and extremely dangerous (it underlies most of the worst crimes of the last century). Presented in meek, dated comedy drama form it is no less ridiculous as an idea. Why wasn’t this written in Esperanto anyway?

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